tv Slavery in Colonial New England CSPAN March 1, 2020 10:55pm-12:01am EST
that is why we started shifting and it's why i was really passionate about highlighting that program, and that was about two years ago, and it has just been growing ever since. steve: ryan mcgrady, he is the manager of the scholars and scientists program at wiki education, joining us from new york. thank you for being with us. ryan: pleasure to be here. announcer 1: this is "american history tv" featuring events, interviews, archival films and visits to college classrooms, museums and historic places, exploring our nation's past every weekend on c-span three. historian jarret hardisty talks about his book, black lives, native lands, white worlds, a history of slavery in new england, which focuses on the region's involvement in slavery and the slave trade during the colonial era. the hingham historical society and abigail adams historical society cohosted this event.
>> welcome. the hingham heritage museum. my name is deirdre anderson. i have the pleasure of serving as the executive director of the hingham historical society. whose home is here at the hingham heritage museum and welcome to this sold-out program. on behalf of our board of directors and our small staff, i would like to thank you all for making us a part of your week. excuse me. i would like to thank c-span for filming us so that others who cannot be with us tonight can see it at a later date. and thank you to the abigail adams historical society and their board of directors, who offered us this wonderful opportunity to partner with them as we did last year with their
gillis. -- their speaker, edith gillis. abigail's rich history in this region inspires us every day. thank you. the hingham historical society is focused like never before on its history, to understand all voices. we currently are in the midst of a campaign for the benjamin lincoln house, which is our effort to purchase the home of hingham's american revolutionary war hero at 181 north street. benjamin lincoln received the british sort of surrender at yorktown, or as we like to tell schoolchildren, that is benjamin lincoln on the whiteboard. he is featured so prominently in trumbull's painting at the u.s. capitol. benjamin lincoln served hingham as a clerk, constable, and selectman. he also came from a family that owned slaves. and two blocks from here,
there's a slave quarter in the attic of the benjamin lincoln home. our next major exhibit here at the museum generates out of the archaeological finds from the greenbush excavation. the artifacts of colonial bustle weight, and others tell many stories. but the amazing story of the tribe for which the commonwealth gets its name, the massachusetts . we are privileged to work with the massachusett tribe, a member of whom is here with us tonight, to work on this exhibit, to be sure, for the first time in the hingham historical society's history we present the voices correctly. but how do we do this? how do we tell the story of slavery? how do we tell the story of our native people well and correctly? and we do it together.
and it is a joy to be here tonight with all of you. all voices at the table. and thank you for coming to tonight's program. i would like to introduce michele coughlan, head of the board at the abigail adams historical society, who will introduce our speaker. thanks for coming tonight. [applause] michelle: i'm going to echo dutra in saying welcome and thank you so much for coming this evening. i want to thank deirdre and michael sincerely and the rest of the hingham historical society for again partnering with us on a program. we are so happy to do this. and before i get into the introduction, i want to tell you about another program you might find of interest. on saturday, march 28, from 9:00 to 1:00 in plymouth, the spire center, the backroads of
the south shore, which is a consortium of local historical organizations, of which the hingham historical society and the abigail adams birthplace are a part, are hosting the symposium. we have so many exciting anniversaries this year in massachusetts that this symposium will be focusing on those anniversaries, such as the 400th arrival -- 400th anniversary of the arrival of the mayflower, 100th anniversary of the reaching of women's suffrage. interestingly, locally, the 100th anniversary of the trial which will be the subject of the keynote. so more information is available on our website. brss.org. so i am a member of the board of the abigail adams historical society, and we oversee as stewards the abigail adams birthplace, which was built in
1685. it is in weymouth. it is where abigail smith adams was born. she lived for the first 20 years of her life there until she married john adams in 1764. she continued to be connected to this house throughout her life. she visited throughout her parents' lives. this was a place where her character and ideals were formed so it's very important to her. we are an all volunteer organization and we try to continue her spirit by offering educational programs and we also offer seasonal tours and private tours. and if you would like more information, please check out our website at abigailadamsbirthplace.org. when i first joined the abigail adams birthplace board a few years ago, despite knowing how prevalent slavery was in early new england i was still shocked , to discover that there were slaves in the home where abigail adams grew up. her antislavery sentiments are well-known, but her father,
reverend williams smith, had at least four slaves. cato, tower, tom and phoebe. these individuals were important to abigail adams's early life. we try and commemorate them and honor their memory by researching their lives, incorporating information about their lives into our tours, and also offering a program on early new england slavery every year. and so, this year, we are very pleased to be able to have jared hardesty join us. i wanted jared to speak for us since his first book came out, "unfreedom, slavery, independence in 18th-century boston," and this year, the stars have aligned, so jared is an associate professor at western washington university, and he is the author of "black lives, native lands, white worlds, a history of slavery in new england," and i welcome you to give jared a warm welcome. [applause]
jared: good evening, everyone. thank you for coming. thank you to the hingham historical society and deidra and michael and everyone here. this place is really swanky. it is really nice. and also to the board of the abigail adams historical society/birthplace. i was told to say slash birthplace. it is a great honor to be here, and it is certainly thanks to the audience here tonight as well. this is now the seventh book talk i have given in new england about this particular book. and almost every one of them has been sold out. been sold out. that is heartening as an author, but it is also as someone who cares about this subject and wants this information out there as an educator as well, so it is my great honor to be here this
evening to talk about "black lives, native lands, white worlds, a history of slavery in new england." this book is the first general overview of slavery in new england in nearly 80 years. the last book to do this was lorenzo johnston green's "the england."olonial new there have been plenty of books since then. they are usually part of larger histories of slavery in the united states, in the american north, or a focused historical study, and i am certainly guilty of doing that in my first book. this is a general overview meant for kind of the reading public. this evening, i want to discuss the purpose of writing this book. or in other words, why i think we need this book in this moment. and then give you a brief overview of its contents. in doing so, i will talk a bit about the history of slavery in new england more generally. so why write this book at all, especially in this moment? it came out last year in 2019.
in the end, i envision this book as a conversation or rather, me narrating a conversation that has been going on for about the past 25 years, and you see four different conversations going on in that time period. the first, there has been a massive outpouring of academic scholarship, books, journal articles, and things like that, by scholars on the topic of new england slavery. much of that scholarship, and i am totally guilty here, has been hyper specialized, focusing on particular places, moments, themes, or sets of sources. these works, as excellent as they are, sometimes make it difficult to see the bigger picture and also sometimes, they are sometimes inaccessible, both because of the way academics write, but also because of things like pay walls that are very expensive to get access to. the second conversation is that -- coming into this
conversation are the libraries, archives, and historical societies across new england who identify that they own collections related to slavery and made them widely accessible via online publishing, traditional print publishing, but also, something as simple as when these libraries digitize their catalogs, providing subject headings related to slavery, it makes these sources much easier to identify, and much more accessible. the third, add to that a historical reckoning with slavery by leading institutions across new england such as brown university's report on slavery and justice. now, that reckoning, which started back in 2003 with brown, has extended to historic sites large and small, as we hear tonight. other universities and local and state governments have all begun to dig into their own past and relationship with slavery. the finally -- the final piece of this is the work of community activists, of public historians,
local historians, independent researchers, who have uncovered an incredible amount of source material on slavery and publicized it in the most radically accessible ways, on blogs and things like that. and this forces us all to acknowledge the region's history of and connection to slavery, so we have all these different conversations that have been going on for the past generation. many different people talking to each other, with each other, at each other, past each other, often times, about the history of slavery in new england, the memory of that history, and the politics of that memory. in the book, i try to bring together these conversations and use them to narrate the new, more comprehensive, yet accessible history of new england slavery. in short, i stand on the shoulders of people who have been in the trenches doing this work for the past 25 years.
in that sense, i view the book not only as an end. it synthesizes 25 years of scholarship to more fully tell this history. i think it is also a beginning. it provides a set of facts, a framework, and a starting point for future conversations. so how do i narrate this conversation? this kind of four conversations we have seen come together? i discussed the lives of enslaved africans and indigenous people in new england, how their enslavement was instrumental to the colonization of the region, and how slavery and colonization were two processes designed to transform new england into a place that best served the region's white settler population, especially the most elite settlers. all three of those are tall orders in and of themselves, but to do that in about 60,000 words -- the editor told me no more than 60,000 words.
that is about 50 to 175 pages, if you are wondering. not much at all. -- and to make it approachable to the reading public. these were no small tasks. short length, make sure it is readable. indeed, the hardest part of writing the book was actually not what to research and write. i had 25 years of excellent source material from academics, researchers, and activists. but rather, how. how to create a book that is short yet comprehensive, comprehensive yet readable, readable yet sensitive to the subject matter? and now, the book is published, and many of you bought copies. i really hope i pulled it off. >> [laughter] jared: the book is both a chronological and topical narrative that opens with the colonization of new england in the 1620's and 1630's, and it early 19th century with the process of emancipation.
to bring some coherence -- this is a big history -- the book uses one organizing theme, connections. i look at the connection between new england slavery and slavery and slave society in other -- slave societies in other parts of the americas. i looked at the connection of slavery in new england to the larger social, economic, and political development of the region. and finally, i look at how those two types of connections, connections to other slave societies, connections to the development of new england, how those two connections shape the lives of enslaved people and two types of connections,how ene connections. it is a tall order. but nevertheless the book opens , by examining the connection between slavery and colonization. anyone who is familiar with the history of slavery in new england, there is this kind of mythical moment. historians have narrated the beginning of slavery in new england in 1638. in that year, the ship that e desire sailed into boston
higher, and john winthrop in his diary recorded the cargo on board the desire, and there was sugar, salt, and he also listed african captives. so 1638, this is the starting date. over about the past 15 years or so, historians have begun to challenge that as a foundational moment in history of slavery in new england, and they have done that in two ways. the first is pretty -- obviously there were enslaved people -- enslaved africans before 1638. we have direct eyewitness testimony of the presence of enslaved africans. but the more important part, and where the scholarship has really gone since, and where my book really tries to develop this is not only studying the desire when it came back to new england, but the desire when it left. the desire was based out of boston. and historians began looking into what did the desire ship to
the west indies to purchase the salt and the sugar and the african captives? in the hold of the desire were a number of pequot captives. between the year 1636 and 1638, the colonies of massachusetts, rhode island, and connecticut went to war against the pequot people. the war yielded hundreds of captives. many of them were enslaved locally in new england towns, but we know a couple hundred at least were sold out of the colony. and so, they are sold out of new england to the west indies, where they are exchanged for african captives. we see here the direct connection between slavery and colonization in new england. slavery served a dual purpose. first, it served the purpose of removing indigenous people from their land to open it for english settlement. what better way to remove people
from their land than to permanently tear them away, sell them away from their homeland? this allows for the rapid expansion of the new england colonies. both large numbers of english immigrants, high reproduction rates, they quickly expand into the interior, and that creates labor shortages, especially in areas that had been settled early, especially the major port towns, boston, salem, places like that. and they need labor, so they use african slave labor to supplement the labor force as a whole. you see the process of exchanging native captives for african captives, and that is the foundation of slavery in new england beginning in the 1630's through the 1670's. native captives are african captives. -- for african captives.
as this cycle suggests, central to it was new england's connection to the west indies. especially the growing plantation economies there. the english settled the west indies about the same time they settled in new england. so 16 20's. they arrived in barbados a little bit later. very quickly, these islands are completely colonized and turned over to sugar cultivation. almost the entire islands are. they are entirely stripped of forests and any piece of arable land is planted with sugarcane, and eventually, they used enslaved africans to work those cane plantations. these islands, because they have been completely stripped of their forest, only growing sugarcane, they need food, they need provisions for that enslaved labor force. they need supplies like timber for building and for burning. they need livestock for food and labor, and they turned to new england. as early as the 1630's, you see new englanders selling these
provisions to the west indies. they, it is used to fuel the plantation complex there, and in exchange, new englanders received sugar and molasses and things like -- and enslaved africans. it forms a symbiotic relationship between the two regions, between new england and the west indies. first barbados but eventually the leeward islands. eventually jamaica. this is a symbiotic relationship that extends beyond the economic. it is very much economic, but there is a considerable amount of cultural exchange as well, so some of the earliest graduates of harvard, for example were the sons of west indian planters. there is extensive intermarriage between elite merchant families in new england and the west indies, to further solidify
those economic ties. and the new england colonies begin borrowing heavily from the slave societies in the caribbean to create their own systems of slavery here. so for example, massachusetts borrowed slave law and customs governing slavery directly from barbados. and most enslaved people who arrived in the region, enslaved africans, actually had spent time in the west indies before they arrived here. sometimes, they were born there. sometimes, they spent a couple months after arriving on a slave ship, but they spent a considerable amount of time in the caribbean. using this caribbean connection as a starting point, my book then turns and explores the way in which enslaved people arrived in new england. all told, about 20,000 enslaved africans arrived between the 1630's and 1775. they came to comprise about 4% of the region's population. that is another place where you have to stop and kind of question the way in which the
history of slavery in new england has been written. one of the ways in which historians have pushed back against -- and others have pushed back against the importance of slavery in new england is those demographic numbers. oh, it is only 4% of the population. how important could it actually be? there's two answers to that. the first is when you look in specific regions, the slave population is actually significantly higher. so boston in the mid-18th century is about 12% to 15% enslaved. newport rhode island, about 25% enslaved. urban areas, large enslaved populations. but it's not just the urban areas, which is the other thing historians would say. this is the mistake i made in my first book. i said yeah, new england, didn't matter for new england. it really mattered for boston. researching this book actually reveals that there is significant enslaved populations in other parts of the region as well. rural areas. deerfield, massachusetts, 1750, had a population of 550 people. 50 of them were enslaved.
the narragansett country, washington county, what was called south county, home to large slave holdings. families who had owned thousands of acres of grasslands, and they had vast herds of cattle on them. and they would own large, enslaved labor forces, mostly women who would then process the dairy products from the cattle to ship all over the place, but mostly to the west indies. so you see slave holdings in the south county, rhode island of 40, 50, 60 enslaved people. we are talking rivaling plantations we think of in places like virginia. highly localized but nonetheless a significant slaveholding that belies that kind of 4%. the other piece of this, the other way in which i kind of push back, is going back to that caribbean connection. while there were not large
numbers of enslaved people in new england per se, the entire economy revolved around what historians call the business of slavery. the selling of provisions to the plantations, the transportation of enslaved people throughout the americas, but also the transatlantic slave trade. come back to that in a second. the entire economy revolved around enslavement. a historian of new england by the name of mark peterson, just published this giant book on boston, and he phrased it pretty well when he said boston was a slave society where most of the enslaved people lived elsewhere. and that is what we can say for new england as a whole. so the demographics -- i push back against getting caught up in the demographics for these reasons i just explained but , also the way in which you see white new englanders eagerly embrace slave trading by the late 17th century. they embrace slave trading, especially from africa, but also
within the americas, as a form of commerce. rhode island the colony of rhode , island became the center of slave trading in all british north america. if you take all the slave voyages from the colonial period, from all the colonies that became the united states, and you added them up, they would not equal those of rhode island. rhode island is by far the center of the british north american slave trade. it actually rivals those of the west indies as well. so it is an extensive slave trade central to the economy of the colony. so that is how i set up the second chapter, is pushing back against the demographic facts to talk about the ways in which enslaved people arrived in new england and push back against those narratives, but most important for that chapter, chapter two, i dedicate the bulk of it to exploring the lives of five individuals trafficked into new england and their stories
and experiences of arriving in the region and being enslaved. i want to read a short passage from the book about one of these men. some of you might be familiar with. "standing on the gallows, on the town common in cambridge, massachusetts in september 1755, mark "a negro man who belonged to --" delivered a speech to a large crowd, awaiting his execution. sent to hang, he provided a short biography of his life. according to his confession, he was born into slavery in barbados sometime in the year 1725. he was sold away from the island as a young boy, probably around the age of eight. when he could be put to work. when he arrived in boston, he was sold to a succession of masters. one, a brass worker named mr. salter, was especially kind to
mark, having learned him to read and having educated him as tenderly as one of his own children. salter must not have been that kind however as he sold mark to another master, who in turn sold him to john. john put him to work in the foundry on his property. foundry on his property.rker. he was a skilled metalworker. mark then toiled, working as an ironworker in boston and charlston, until he grew tired of his abuse and murdered him. " mark's story helps to illustrate an important trend that is easy to overlook when we discussed the slave trade to the region. many enslaved people that arrived in new england were actually born in the west indies and trafficked up here as children many times. and so they are natives of the caribbean, and it shows that depth of the caribbean connection. and so, this is why it is so important to delve into these
individual lives, because it helps to prevent us from kind of stereotyping. most enslaved people in new england were african or whatnot. it allows us to really see their backgrounds and flesh them out and who they were as people. from there, the book has three chapters exploring the institution of slavery in new england and the lives of enslaved people in the region. these chapters look at topics like slave law, slave labor. by the early 18th century, you can find enslaved people working in every part of the economy, whether it was in domestic servitude, in households, as women providing support for households, or men serving as valets or coachmen, but also every industry, every major colonial industry, rope making, shipbuilding. enslaved labor was central to it, especially in urban areas like boston. but in the rural farm economy as well, you see extensive use of
enslaved labor, so it's everywhere by the early 18th century, deeply ingrained in the economy of the region. these chapters also look at the lived experience of slavery and resistance to slavery, how enslaved people resisted. what allows me to narrate these stories, it kind of comes back to what i just told about mark. is that the records here are really rich. the court records, for example, the account books kept by merchants and manufacturers, private letters and diaries, wills and probate inventories print sources such as , newspapers give us a really good sense of what life was like for enslaved people. for example, in one of the major collections for the colony of massachusetts was called -- they are called the supple files. they are the court filed papers for the colony of massachusetts
as a whole. there are testimonies and depositions from enslaved people. certainly, they are biased, there talking, they are testifying on a certain case as a witness or a plaintiff or defendant or something like that, but they are also talking about their everyday lives, who they encounter, who they know, what they know. and so you get -- you can actually kind of hear their voices through these documents, and that is unique for understanding slavery in the english-speaking world until the 19th century. so the records here are really rich, and you can find them everywhere. anywhere you look in the records from 17th century new england you will find the , presence of slavery in the documentary record. so that allows us to kind of narrate and tell the stories of enslaved people, what their lives were like, what they did for work, who they married, what the relationship between enslaved parents and their children were. you can see all of these facets in the documents, and the book takes those up in turn. the final chapter of the book explores the american revolution and its impact on slavery.
the revolution, in many ways, provided the impetus for ending slavery in new england, for both ideological and economic reasons. more significantly, it created opportunities for enslaved people to strike out for their own freedom. through activism, military service, or simply running away. the opportunities created by the revolution open up a whole world of possibilities, and in terms of writing this book, this is perhaps my favorite part to research, is this time to the revolution. my first book cut short. i did not want to deal with the revolution. this one i do want to deal with the revolution. i found some amazing things. for example, if you look at the 1790 federal census for the state of connecticut, in the 1790 federal census, they only list householders, who was the head of house, but they will list the race of the householder.
so if you look at the colony -- the state of connecticut, you find all of the african-american men who were head of house in 1790 in connecticut, 20% of them were veterans of the continental army, and they could link their freedom to service -- you can link their freedom to the service in the continental army. it's amazing. disproportionately, african-american men in new england fought in the continental army. they served and many of them could link to their freedom to that service. integrated army, by the way. but of course, the american revolution had two sides, and there's plenty of evidence of enslaved people joining the british as well. one of my favorite stories i found was of a man named poppy fleet. poppy fleet belonged to a guy named thomas fleet jr., who was a printer in boston, rapid patriot. and poppy fleet's appearance in the records, he comes and goes
in and out of the records for about a 25-year period, beginning in 1774 and leading up to the 1790's. and his first appearance records is actually a runaway ad. thomas poppy junior, the owner of a newspaper pulls up an ad because poppy has run away. he did not run away from thomas fleet. he ran away from jail. he broke out of jail. as it turns out, many enslavers in new england, if they could not control their bondsmen and women, they put them in jail, send them to jail. let the town or the state or the colony deal with it. and that is what had happened to poppy but he broke out. , he disappears from the record again. we know his next appearance in , the record is march 17, 1776. march 17, 1776. evacuation day. there is a record when the british army decamped from new that point, about
3000 african-americans were living in and around new york city, working for and with the british military, and the british military evacuates them. and one of the officers, guy carleton records all of the , people of african descent who left. he records their names, their spouses, their ages, and how pompey will appears in theishad record. the site's name its is evacuated with the army, evacuated with the army from boston. thenow he evacuated from british army and lived in new york city for the duration of the war where he worked for a printer named alexander robinson. he moved to nova scotia after
the war and may have received some land as many black loyalists did. he worked for robinson, publishing the royal american gazette, until 1786 when robinson decided he was going to leave and move to prince edward island. pompey once again disappears from the records, then appears again in 1791. sierraeparting for leone, which is a colony the british founded for black loyalists to resettle in west africa. and circumstantial evidence -- i am comfortable saying this but i will preface this, circumstantial evidence suggests he was the first printer in british sierra leone. it is a really neat story. you can see the way in which the forces of the revolution moved enslaved new englanders around the atlantic. because of story like his and of stories of the heads household in connecticut, that chapter ends on a cautiously
optimistic note. by the mid-1780's, slavery had no legal standing in any of the new england states in theory. enslaved people were rapidly becoming free, in theory. the region's slave trade had been abolished, in theory. and there were real possibilities for free people to become new members of the new united states, in theory. the epilogue of the book is much, much less optimistic, and it examines all of those in theories and puts them into context. demonstrating the ways enslaved and recently free people were systematically denied their freedom, disenfranchised, segregated, and alienated from white society. one of the other opportunities i had in researching this book and in the process of studying this revolutionary era was a process historians have termed selling out. this is a process that began in the 1760's and lasted through the 1790's, in which they were
-- and slaved and free black people were sold out of new england. many of them were kidnapped. every new england state by the mid-1780's had passed laws against this, yet it continued. the work of abolitionist societies came to be really composed of trying to help people who had been kidnapped and recover them, to petition the government to have them found and brought back. significant numbers of enslaved and free black new englanders are sold out of the region. many of them wind up in atlantic canada. there are many ties between new england and nova scotia, and the maritime economies in nova scotia could use that sort of enslaved labor that had worked in new england. and so, for example, if you look at loyalist newspapers from the 1780's and 1790's, they also publish runaway slave ads. occasionally the enslavers who took the ad would say they are trying to get home to
massachusetts. the numbers are hard to get out, because this is an illegal activity, but if you take a look at the work -- the work of the problem -- the providence abolition society, black civil rights activists, i would estimate as many as 1000 people were trafficked out of new england between the 1760's and 1790's. remember, this is 20,000 people over the entire colonial period. we are talking about a 20th of that population is trafficked out in the revolutionary era. this suggests sort of the lost promises of freedom. not only do you have selling out, you have the rise of formal segregation. public schools are segregating, all the new england states. you have the marginalization of the labor force after the revolution. to the point, you have the rise
of scientific racism and the application of racist principles to public policy. many free people just leave new england entirely and you can see black veterans who served in the continental army settle away from new england and never return home. others struggle to make a living, drifting town to town looking for work, being chased out by town authorities, worn -- warned out as the process was called. as this was happening, what was happening in white new england society? i have my second reading from the book here. as blacks left the region they struggled to eke out a living. new england's white population never faced consequences for the sins of slavery. rather they enjoyed all the benefits of generation of slave ownership with little regard to those who suffered. even sympathetic whites or enslavers who realized the
errors of their ways benefited. poor whites, many of whom never owned slaves, embraced racism. and the marginalization of people of color. not only did that lessen competition in the job market but it gave poor whites the psychological satisfaction of racial superiority. as slavery dwindled in new england, many whites, including those who owned slaves, began to define themselves as fundamentally different from other americans, especially those in the south. new england was free soil, so rich in liberty that slavery could never take deep root. slavery, this line of thought went, was never important to the new england economy, was only practiced by a few wealthy families, and was a largely benevolent institution. most importantly, white new englanders realize the errors of their ways during the american revolution and abolished slavery forever. in crafting this narrative of a free new england, whites absolved themselves of the sin of slavery. such a belief system allowed for whites to shift the blame for black poverty away from the
legacy of slavery and onto individual moral failings. under this logic, if people cannot thrive in a land of liberty and opportunity, they had no one to blame but themselves. white new englanders, in short, made slavery and its legacies history. and it is that facet which reverberates across time to us today and where i am going to end this evening. the ability of white new englanders to totally distance themselves from slavery, help ed craft many of the myths about slavery in new england, once you're probably familiar with. the myth that slavery never -- only a few people were and slaved and slavery never really took root in new england, that morally superior new englanders quickly abolished slavery or perhaps worst of all, slavery never existed in new england. or at least not in a form most americans would recognize as
such. and my hope is that at the very least that this book is able to confront and help fight against those myths. thank you so much. [applause] i am happy to take a few questions, but do wait for the microphone once i call on you. so, this one right here. -- this gentleman right here. >> who were the earliest voices against slavery? and second, a more political comment, what is your view on reparations? mr. hardesty: oh boy. [laughter] ok. so, the first answer, the earliest antislavery activity you see, you are going to start to see some antislavery activity by the late 17th, early 18th century.
but there is something i should mention first. enslaved people were never fans of slavery so there was always anti-slavery sentiment as long as slavery is present. that is the first thing. the second thing is that in terms of actual white sentiment against slavery, you begin to see this in the late 17th, early 18th century. quakers in places like rhode island are some of the earliest antislavery -- but quaker antislavery has much more to do with the internal dynamics of the quaker community. right? the way in which the ability to own and hold other people as property to do with what you want with those people, the way that hurts the godly community. you see a very similar argument coming out of samuel stool, who was a puritan and prominent jurist in massachusetts. he writes a pamphlet in 1700 called "the selling of joseph" which argues against slavery. his concern about slavery is that enslaved people constitute
in his words a quote, extra basket of blood. they can never be incorporated into the body politic. they are always foreign, always alien. and that is why we have to get rid of slavery, because it will disrupt the community. so a sort of abolitionism that we recognize as such, perhaps advocating for the end of slavery, perhaps the enfranchisement of people, that is much more connected towards the revolution in the 1760's and 1770's. and one of the things i talk about, the way enslaved people are free in new england, so much of that is initial -- individual initiative. there is a community of abolitionist lawyers who help them file suits and petition and things like that. the question of reparations. um, um, i am not comfortable
answering it, first of all. my take on it, i draw from the kind of -- the question is, what constitutes reparations? that is the first question. i think about ta nahesi coates' essay. one of the things he says is that we all will share in any sort of reparations that would happen. including african-americans. this would be redistributing public goods to help communities that have been disproportionately affected by the legacies of slavery. so, anyone who pays taxes would be paying into that. i think that is the road to go. i don't want to punt on the question. the other side of it though is, and where i am much more come to -- comfortable talking about it as a historian and educator, not the politics side of it and how feasible it is, is the stories have to be told. they should be part of any
interpretive programming at historic sites. those stories deserve to be told just as much as those of the founding fathers. so, there's an education component to reparations which i think is an easier answer for me as a historian, which is to say yeah, these stories should be front and center, they should be present in history in a way that they have not been. and i think that is the first step in education. >> so, i have a question about the 20,000 that you estimate that were enslaved in new england. i'm wondering if you base that on the 1765 slave census. because my reading of that slave census was that it was only persons above 16 that were counted.
wouldn't youhat, think the number would be even higher than 20,000 if you include those who were 16 and below? mr. hardesty: yes. yes. so, about 20,000 people looking through the records, looking the trans atlantic slave database, corroborating that others arrived in new england. that is not taking into account people reproducing, not taking into account smuggling that is not being accounted for and things are that. it is a conservative estimate. it also does not include the 100s of carolina people , carolina native people trafficked into new england as well. probably a significantly larger number. conservative estimate is 20,000 in the region. all the slave censuses, the official one taken by the governor or all the -- they dramatically under count the number of of enslaved people.
they don't enumerate people under 16. for example, as noted, a very large percentage of enslaved people in new england were children. the largest percentage of slaveholders in a place like boston were artisans, middle-class people, middling people as they would be called in the 18th century. and they would prefer to buy children, because they were cheaper, you can raise them in your household. you are a skilled tradesmen so you are taking on apprentices. you can fit them into that apprentice system, but they are property for life. by the time they are adults, they are worth a hefty sum of money and they are skilled and experienced. so yes, a desire for enslaved children, you can see this in writing, requesting children from africa for his personal valet, he wanted a 12-year-old boy. so yeah, so officially -- especially in the official records there is drastic undercounting.
because of the issue of not counting children but also, enslaved people were taxable property. new englanders, they do not like paying taxes. we know this. it behooved them to hide enslaved people, to under claim. if you take a look, you can see this dramatically in boston, where the largest enslaved population lived in new england. there is a record taken, kind of down, overwrites it 1500 enslaved people in boston in 1752. then you look at the slave census in 1754, and there is only like 900. what happened to 600 people in two years? it is dramatically undercounting. this is one of the things that has led to the interpretation by historians a look at official records and say, there is stuff happening, just look at the low numbers. that is not the case. so there is dramatic undercounting. i am being very conservative with numbers in the book,
because it is so hard to guess. >> i have a question that is kind of a preamble to your book. i was struck when you're talking about folks in the 1630's enslaving people, just as people came here with the skill to make , theyet or a gristmill came with the skill to make somebody a slave. and they also came with societal permission as to what they could get away with. and, you know, so my question kind of is, without going back to egypt and greece and rome, and going to britain, the magna itta, the rest of it -- was a permission that was granted for native peoples or
non-christian peoples, for people with brown skin? where did the skins come from, and what was the permission that was granted? mr. hardesty: there is a lot going on. that is a big question. slavery largely disappears from england by 1400 or so, especially after the black death. that said, other forms of unfreedom still exist. apprenticeships, servitude, things like that. they do have experience of using bound labor even in the absence of slavery. a few things happen in the 1500s that are key for understanding what is happening in new england. the first is englishmen begin traveling abroad. they go all over the world. and they begin writing about what they encounter and what they see. one of the things they spent a -- the places they spend a lot of time in is the caribbean and latin american. by the mid-16th century, when they visit a place like cuba or
mexico or peru, they see large numbers of enslaved africans that the portuguese and spanish used. what this does in their minds is, it links slavery to blackness, slavery to africanness. through these travels, that is one of the things that happens. the other development that comes out of the 16th century and into the 17th century is the nature of colonization, of english colonization. it is largely private. we think about the virginia company, the massachusetts bay company, the plymouth company, these are private entities with broad powers to designed or low -- their own laws. they can kind of do what they want within a certain reason. remember, they are 3000 miles away from any royal oversight. so they can craft laws. so what happens in the colony of massachusetts, in 1641 they openly legalize slavery.
ironically, the law code is called the body of liberties. article 91 deals with slavery. if you read it, you would first think they outlaw slavery because it's his bond slavery band, except, and they list three exemptions. people who were captured in just wars. i.e., non-christians. native people can be enslaved. people who are strangers. ah, africans who are foreigners, they are strangers among us. or those who are sold to us, is the third. so now you have just accounted for the ability to capture native people as slaves because they are captured in just wars. i will come back to that in a second. two, for the facilitation of selling people into new england as slaves. so either african or indigenous. and those who are foreign or strangers, so, africans. so it reads like they outlawed
slavery, but really, it is racially codified very early. they are basically saying people of european descent cannot be enslaved. anyone else who comes or is captured in war can be. where i will end the question is the idea of just wars. this is deliberate. one of the shocking things, i talk about that cycle of indigenous captives being sold for african captives. it struck me as just how open and deliberate and shameless this was. there is a letter from 1645 from emmanuel downing. he was john winthrop's brother-in-law and a prominent magistrate. he lived in salem. and in this letter, downing writes to winthrop and says we should start a war with the narragansett. they are causing problems. it will be a just war because they are not christian. we will be able to take them captive, and we will be able to sell those captives to the west
indies and obtain africans. because he is worried, by 1645, he is already worried that salem is running short of laborers. all the young people don't want to stick around. the moment they get a little bit of opportunity, they go settle land that has been stolen from indigenous people. so they go and settle land. they move away from the town. so where do you get a labor force? you have to pay them. wages are high in this context. so you bring in africans who will work -- essentially one african could be provided for 20 africans for one white man was his ratio he worked out in his mind in terms of provisions. it is a much cheaper system of labor. just open, advocating for this. winthrop shuts it down, but any sort of hint of diplomatic issues with indigenous people, you are seeing these letters all of a sudden, people wanted to capitalize, to see an opportunity to capture
indigenous people to sell to bring back. i promised i was going to end there, but i'm going to add one more thing. this cycle continues until king philip's war in 1675, 16776, -- 1676, when thousands of indigenous captives are sold out of new england. upwards of 2500 people are captured and sold to the west indies. most of them are actually sold by the colony of massachusetts, not by private merchants, but by the colony trying to recover costs for the war. so many indigenous captives are being sold out of new england to barbados into jamaica that both of those colonies ban the further importation of indigenous new englanders. they are afraid there are so many warriors coming in that they are going to cause a slave rebellion. so they ban the further importation of indigenous warriors from new england. this tells you the scope and the volume of that exchange. my apologies for going on
forever. but yes. wait for the mic. >> are you aware of any changes that are happening to textbooks and history, and has anyone been contacting you about trying to update and present the real stories so that children will have a better idea of what really happened? mr. hardesty: for me personally, no. i know there's a push to get my book in high schools from the press, which has looked into that option. most of my work has been on the public history front. so, i have done quite a bit of work with old north and a few other groups. and they have begun to move this story of slavery to the front and in their educational and interpretive programs. i think at some point the dam is going to break and you're going to start to see these changes
happening in textbooks and things like that. one of the remarkable things in this book is how many people come up and say i never learned the story. i did not know this. so i am hoping that -- i think of myself as part of -- this is a conversation that is going on and i think of it as a larger conversation, and i hope that dam is about the break and we see it spread all the way down into elementary school curriculums. yes. >> what made you become so interested in this topic? mr. hardesty: it is a long story, but i will try to keep it short. it actually started as fairly pragmatic. my phd is from boston college. ever since i was an undergraduate, i knew i wanted to study history and i became interested in colonial american history and the history of slavery. i always thought because i was interested in that i could be a historian of the south and west indies. i get to boston college and i
realized graduate school takes a long time. you want to be a little more pragmatic. i had this idea of comparing all these different colonies, and i had to learn a couple foreign languages and things. and i just realized i did not want to be in graduate school for a decade. and so, i started looking, and i did some reading and i realize there is not a vast amount of literature on new england. -- on slavery in new england. there had not been anything on boston. there is history of slavery in new york, philadelphia, but why not boston? the third major colonial port city. so i said i will take a look. at that point when my graduate -- one of my graduate work advisors at boston college informed me about the files i mentioned, this massive collection of court file papers. he said it is really hard to navigate but take a look. lo and behold i found all these testimonies and depositions of enslaved people in boston, about 300 of them. i had never seen them before in an english-language record. i had read about it in spanish
and portuguese, but never in the english records. i was like, this is amazing. not only could i now write a history of slavery in boston but say something about enslaved people and their lives more generally. so i became very excited about it. this particular -- and i ended up writing the first book. but this book in particular came out a frustration in writing that book. when i embarked on the research for the first book, i wanted a short readable history that would give me an overview. so i would have a reference work or something. there are a couple books that kind of work but they were particularly short and didn't have a lot of further reading and that is what i wanted to do. this came out both as kind of a pragmatic concern, but when i got into the actual process of writing it, i realize we are kind of at a crossroads with all these different people talking to each other. and in the process of writing the first book, i met so many
other scholars working on slavery in new england, so many historians, educators, activists who are doing this work. and i felt this is bigger than just my kind of scholarly deeds. this warrants a public conversation. are there any other questions? one more. [applause] sure. >> in your research, did you come across anything specific to hingham? mr. hardesty: um, not -- i mean, you see all these towns and records and things like that when you're looking at censuses, but i did not come across anything in particular to hingham. although my first book, i ended
up writing a bit about a couple slaveholders in hingham. hingham was part of the county. -- the same county is boston. a couple of slaveowners who were from here. great. well, thank you all for coming. [applause] ms. anderson: thank you all so much. for those of you who would like to meet jared, he will be up here signing books. if you ordered a book, you can have your bookplate personalized and we will deliver that to you over the weekend when the books arrive tomorrow. thank you. if we could form a line here in front of the podium.
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